Heat transfer simulation and improvement of autoclave loading in composites manufacturing
Krishnan, Krishna K.
Kobtawy, Charbel Al
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Mirzaei, S., Krishnan, K., Al Kobtawy, C., Roberts, J., & Palmer, E. (2021). Heat transfer simulation and improvement of autoclave loading in composites manufacturing. International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, doi:10.1007/s00170-020-06573-3
Composite manufacturing has proven to be a quintessential process for the improvement of a spectrum of industries from medical to automotive, and aerospace. Most composite manufacturing processes include a two-step process, lay-up, and autoclave curing. The autoclave process is often long and expensive. Therefore, improving its efficiency can reduce the production cost and increase the throughput significantly. However, there is a scarcity of studies in the literature that tackle production improvement of vacuum bag/autoclave molding processes. Thus, in this paper, in collaboration with an industry partner, the effect of quantity, location, and orientation of parts inside an autoclave on the curing cycle is investigated both computationally and experimentally. The objective is to improve the production rate without compromising quality. The quality of parts is being represented by their heat-up rate throughout the curing cycle. The results showed that, for a specific scenario, doubling the number of parts inside the autoclave could slow down the heat transfer without significantly affecting the heat-up rates. As a result, the lag could be negligible for the increase in the production rate that it provides.
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